Line cooks

When it comes to cookbook design, it’s the Wild West out there! Maybe its because cookbooks, stalwart sellers in a digital age, have the luxury of experimentation as buyers hunt down increasingly charming and quirky gifts.  Maybe it has to do with our increasingly visual culture.  

In any case, I’ve posted about some of these graphic innovations on earlier occasions.  And more recently I’ve looked at the sometimes astonishingly beautiful children’s picture cookbooks we’ve seen of late.

But – suddenly, it seems – now I’m seeing cookbooks that have a distinctly comic feel.  There’s The Vegan Stoner Cookbook, whose meticulously water-colored little visions make me boggle at what the authors must be capable of when they’re not high. 

 Then there’s Cooking Comically, a starter cookbook in which each square-format page is a 4-panel spread with step-by-step instructions, super-casual style: “Shred that mozz!”  “Stir that s***!”  “Give your potatoes to the drowned god!” i.e., boil then.  I can’t imagine using this book, but while it’s in my  hands I can’t stop laughing.

And then there’s the surprisingly serious-minded In the Kitchen with Alain Passard, which really is a true graphic novel offering a glimpse into Chef’s actual life at the stove and the pressure cooker that is a restaurant kitchen. 

It’s funny. Although I’m probably the last person in America who doesn’t enjoy watching food preparation on TV/video/Youtube, I really like these very visual books.  Not for cooking from, but for reading. I think they’re colorful, inventive, full of personality.  And half the time I come away thinking “if only I could draw…”

But then those rice crackers would really never get made!

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  • Christine  on  September 10, 2013

    Susie, you are not the only one! As evidenced by my buckling cookbook shelves, I much prefer written recipes over videos/TV. While I could watch the occasional episode of The Chew, the only other cooking show I've actually watched in recent memory is Worst Cooks in America — and I definitely watch both of those more for their entertainment value than for their cooking demonstrations!

  • ellabee  on  September 10, 2013

    Another graphic novel format is Dirt Candy, by the chef at the NY restaurant of that name, Amanda Cohen. Ryan Dunlavey did the artwork.

  • tsusan  on  September 13, 2013

    I'm glad I'm not the only one!

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